Monday December 10th 2018

Beccles

October 4th, 2010 by
Categories: Suffolk Towns A-Z

Beccles is situated on the River Waveney, around 10 miles upstream of the estuary at Lowestoft (the most easterly town the Great Britain).
St Michaels Church Tower, Beccles
On the edge of the Norfolk Broads, the town is a magnet for many holidaymakers.

Dominating the town centre, is the bell tower of St Michaels Church. The tower is unique in that it is separate from the church and further more it is situated to the east end and not the traditional west end of the church.

Another curious thing about the church tower is that there are only clockfaces on three sides (the North, East and South). The local explanation for this is that the Suffolk people of Beccles, did not want to give the people of Norfolk the time for free (Norfolk is to the West side!)

At one time Beccles was on a large estuary and the church was on the clifftop overlooking that estuary. When work started on building the church it was realised that if the majestic tower was on the west end of the church, chances are that the cliff would collapse under its weight, hence its unconventional siting.

As you walk around the town you will see evidence of some excellent Georgian architecture that add to the town’s charm. Beccles is a market town, (the Waveney Valley’s largest infact) and market day is Friday. Note that on that day the parking in the town centre is difficult. Beccles offers a pleasing assortment of stores both national and local and many pubs and restaurants serving food from around the globe. There are many small specialist shops to look out for and occupy you, in particular on Smallgate and Blyburgate streets.

A shortwalk from the town centre is the Beccles Quay, home to small yachts and pleasure cruisers. The Quayside is ideal for a stroll and nearby you will find the local Tourist Information Office, a small gift shop, a tearoom and a public house (The Loaves & Fishes) which offers a selection of local ales and freshly prepared food.
The Quay, Beccles
For the more adventurous and the nature lovers there is the Beccles Marsh Trail, offering long or short walks along the riverbank. To find the start of the trail cross the footbridge over the river, just up from the Tourist Information office and follow the signs.
More on Beccles can be found at www.becclesonline.co.uk

Celebrity Connections
Catherine Suckling married the Rev. Edward Nelson at Beccles’ St Michaels Church. Later they lived at nearby Barsham. The couple had a son who went on to become quite possible the most famous and greatest seafarer in history, Lord Horatio Nelson.

Broadcaster, Sir David Frost, also the son of a local vicar, was born in the town and a regular visitor up until the death of his mother.

The religious connection with future famous people continued in the 1990’s with another son of a former local recotor of Hungate Church, Simon Thomas, becoming a children’s tv presenter on BBC’s Blue Peter.

Lowestoft rock group The Darkness reputedly had their first ever gig at The Swan Motel at Gillingham (just outside of Beccles).

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin attended Sir John Leman School, in fact the science wing is dedicated to her memory and another school bears the name of Crowfoot as does a road or two throughout the town. Dorothy was a pioneering scientist who also tried to improve everyday peoples knowledge of science. Born Dorothy Crowfoot in Cairo, she married historian Thomas Hodgkin. SAs a chemist she was responsible for research into many modern-day medicines, she died in 1994.

Actor Sir John Mills made his acting debut on the stage of Sir John Leman School in a performance of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream when he played the part of Puck.

Former BBC war correspondent turned politician and author Martin Bell, grew up in Beccles.

More on Beccles can be found at www.becclesonline.co.uk

Local clubs and organisations
Waveney Valley Model Railway Club, Grange Farm Centre, Barsham

Club nights: Thursday evenings from 1930hrs. & Tuesday evenings from 2000hrs
Open Days: Saturday mornings on Farmers Market Days. Clubhouse has continuous test tracks in 0, 00 and N. Prospective new members welcome. Call in on club night for a chat or visit their website.
E-mail Waveneyvalleymrc@aol.com
Contact Club secretary – Kevin Bertrand on 01986 873523

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